Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Roger Federer ‘like a baby’ at Yas Marina Circuit

The Swiss, normally so unflappable, was ‘excited’ and ‘nervous’ ahead of race

Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: He may appear the epitome of calm and composure on court, but tennis legend Roger Federer admitted he was extremely out of his comfort zone at the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday.

“I’m like a baby out here. I don’t understand what’s happening to me,” the 17-time grand slam champion told media in the Yas Marina Circuit paddock.

“I’m nervous; I don’t know what it is.”

Federer was a guest of F1 world champions Mercedes and spent time ahead of the season-ending race meeting dignitaries such as the sport’s supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, and the Yas Marina Circuit Chief Executive Officer, Al Tareq Al Ameri.

He was accompanied by his parents and wife Mirka.

“It’s very interesting to see everything and hear it,” added the 35-year-old Swiss, who has been out of action since losing in the Wimbledon semi-finals to Milos Raonic in July due to knee surgery.

“It’s great to be here at the decider. I am enjoying it. Formula One is great. I’m very excited. I’ve been in the [Mercedes] garage meeting everybody here. Everyone has taken great care of me.

“I’m caring about the drivers and hope that they’re going to be safe. The weather’s okay, so that’s a given.

“I’m excited to see who’s going to win and I will feel bad for who’s not going to win. Nico’s had a very rock-solid season.”

Earlier on Sunday, Federer had confirmed his participation in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) in December.

With current World No 1 Andy Murray and superstars Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal absent, Federer is the biggest name to grace the event. This is a major boost to the competition, which has been cut back to four teams and three venues this season.

Federer is scheduled to play in Hyderabad December 9 and 10. The final takes place the following day but as per the rules only the top two from the four-team round-robin phase will progress.

Seen as tennis’ answer to the Twenty20 format in cricket, the ITPL — which was inaugurated in 2013 — consists of innovations such as power points, player substitutions, no service lets and a shot clock. The number of players participating has been trimmed, which means only a select few will take part in the event with Serena Williams, Kei Nishikori and Tomas Berdych among the stellar names confirmed. Other players expected to take part include Nick Kyrgios, Feliciano Lopez, Fernando Verdasco, Ana Ivanovic, Eugenie Bouchard, Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza, Daniel Nestor and Rohan Bopanna.

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